The City of Vancouver has released an update on actions it’s taking in response to a record number of homeless people counted this year.
"The City is on track to make real progress this year with 600 temporary modular homes to get our most vulnerable off the street and into secure housing, and we have 1,000 new social housing units opening across Vancouver from now until the end of next year,” Mayor Gregor Robertson said quoted in an October 5 media release. “I look forward to working in partnership with the provincial and federal governments to deliver housing that meets local residents' needs and incomes as we continue to grapple with an affordability crisis."
The update follows news that this year Vancouver’s homeless population has officially passed 2,000 for the first time. According to an October 4 staff report, in 2017, there are 1,601 people sleeping in shelters and 537 out on the street.
An astounding 39 percent identify as Indigenous. That compares to just two percent of the general population who describe themselves as First Nations, Inuit, or Metis.
The mayor’s mention of 600 new modular homes was in reference to a July 26 announcement. On that date, the city unveiled a plan to “immediately” establish temporary-housing facilities. These might be similar to the kind of housing that accompanies largescale industrial projects in remote locations such as a logging camp. The city has also experimented with converting shipping containers into housing units.
Locations for the 600 modular homes are not yet determined.
To give citizens a sense of the proposal, a modular-housing display unit is set up at Trout Lake (near the intersection of East 12th Avenue and Victoria Drive). It’s open to the public until October 15. (One was previously on display downtown at Robson Square.) There’s also information about the idea available online.
The 1,000 new social-housing units Robertson mentioned are spread out across 12 developments that are scheduled for completion by the end of 2018 plus a building at 1105 Seymour Street which officially opened today (October 5).
Roughly a quarter of these units should come online before the end of 2017. They’re located in the Downtown Eastside, Strathcona, Grandview-Woodland, and Kensington-Cedar Cottage.
Another 630 or so units coming next year will be spread out across a wider area. Two of those developments are located in the West End, one is downtown, one is in Mount Pleasant, and three are in southeast Vancouver, in Killarney.
“Homelessness continues to be our top priority and we won't back down until we have our most vulnerable in safe and secure housing," Robertson said in the October 5 release.